Experiencing working overseas

16 October 2007, by: Arjan Tijms

Working in a team with members located in different parts of the world is common today, but it’s maybe not that common for a company to bring the freedom of work regarding time and place to such an extend as M4N does.

I have been dreaming of a job with some flexibility in time. It turned out that M4N can provide me with more than I had dreamed about: located in a part of the world (Beijing) 6 hours earlier than the central office (Amsterdam), I can work at any time as long as I can make 16 hours per week, at any place with an Internet connection. M4N uses quite a few methods and tools for me to work as in a virtual local office: project management and issue tracking is done through the Trac system; an Intranet website and an office Calendar facilitate communication and coordination. I’m in the development team and the project version control is through the SVN system. For all these systems, I can use them just as the local members do. You may point out that communication with the team members could be a problem. Well, it is true that that we can not have actual face-to-face discussion or a real-life meeting, which is inconvenient, but we communicate through text or voice and video chat with MSN or skype. In fact, most often than not, team members in the same office use text chat too in order to keep the office in silence.

My working day can be like this: one o’clock in the afternoon, I make some tea and start the computer, then start MSN or skype. Working on my local computer with Internet connection, I program on my local computer but use the remote database in the M4N central office. Around 4 to 5 o’clock, my colleagues go on line. I chat with my team members of the projects now and then. Around 11 o’clock, I commit my work for the day and go off work.

M4N has quite a few distant employees like me. She has cut off the place and time boundary of the traditional cooperation, I feel so lucky to have the opportunities to enjoy the most freedom I can get from a job so far.

Hongqin Chen

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